The term “energy medicine” is used to describe treatments that do not rely on the usual physical or chemical approaches but instead use energy to influence our health. They are sometimes called “subtle” treatments because they address systems of the body that cannot easily be seen, felt or heard, and also are not testable with our current technology.
There are two main forms of energy medicine — one that affects the electric current or charge of the tissues, and one that targets the electromagnetic fields.
Actually, modern medicine uses energy medicine in many forms, both for testing and treatment. MRIs use electromagnetic fields to look into the body, while X-rays and CT scans use radiation. Radiation therapy also uses the same energy, with the goal of killing cancer cells; electrotherapy has been used for some time, especially for muscular problems.
But these technologies use energy at the upper end of the range, far beyond the level the body generates. Our bodies use electric current in the range of millionths of an amp; it wasn’t until the 1950s that equipment could even detect currents this small. More recently, we have been able to study the weak electromagnetic fields of the body.
Energy medicines are not well received by mainstream medicine. For many scientists, if something cannot be tested, it simply doesn’t exist, and any method of treatment based on it is questionable at best. (Rupert Sheldrake, Ph.D., calls this mindset “the science delusion.”) Of course, as a doctor of chiropractic, and a chiropractic acupuncturist, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest if a treatment does not have the sanction of mainstream medicine. In the past, these treatments were rejected, not because they didn’t work, but because they didn’t fit the way of thinking of the time. Researchers in the field of energy medicine make the point that current medical thought limits research and prevents any real progress. This is the reason there is so little to support energy medicine, not because there is nothing to study.
Another problem that interferes with the acceptance of energy medicine is that it does not directly treat an injury or disease, like medicines or surgery. Instead, it works on restoring the healing process; it is health-oriented rather than disease-oriented. This is a different approach typically dismissed by doctors who rely on much more invasive (and risky) treatments.
When healthy, our bodies are capable of healing almost anything. Energy medicine practitioners are more likely to look at chronic pain or disease as a failure of the body’s healing processes, rather than a condition that attacks the body and should be attacked in return. Again, these are subtle treatments, patients treated with energy medicine (mostly chiropractic acupuncture, and electroacupuncture in our office) often comment that the results are far greater than they expect. How could a small needle inserted in the skin, or an electric stimulation so small they don’t even feel it, have such an effect on their body? Yet it is undeniable that it does, sometimes instantly and without the side effects we have come to associate with health care.
Some feel that energy medicine is the next “breakthrough” area in health care, and I tend to agree. We are certainly due for a change. Our current system, while it has great benefits, is tremendously expensive and, according to a medical article from 2000, is the third-leading cause of death.
Next week, I’ll discuss the electric charge type of energy medicine.
Dr. Michael Noonan practices chiropractic, chiropractic acupuncture and other wellness therapies in Old Town. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.